Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, December 22, 2014 at 3:00 PM
The five college football bowl games played this past Saturday were a reminder of how difficult it’s going to be for many handicappers to find true value in the coming days. Yes, you’ll be able to pick your spots here and there with specific games that offer HUGE betting value. But, raw talent and consistency just aren’t there for many bowl teams this season.
The first thing that jumps out of the boxscores is a topic I’ve been discussing a lot in recent weeks for both the colleges and the NFL. Poor quarterback play! This is usually a position loaded with PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS that allows handicappers to find meaningful edges. As you saw this past Saturday, true talent at the position is scarce right now.
*Utah State only completed 5 passes for 68 yards in a game they won! That’s because they were facing the truly helpless UTEP offense that had little chance of driving the field.
*Nevada’s Cody Fajardo had a very disappointing game in the New Orleans Bowl. The Wolpack could only manage a passing line of 14-29-0-124 indoors on a fast track against a Sun Belt defense.
*Western Michigan completed only 50% of its passes against a relatively passive Air Force defense that doesn’t mind allowing short completions.
*Colorado State was a popular shocker choice here in Las Vegas against a Pac 12 opponent from Utah. Many bettors were shocked when nobody on the team could make a play! Brent Musburger, who follows the betting markets closer than any other TV announcer…except for maybe Al Michaels…told “the Wise Guys” to “wise up!” Funny hearing that on a network game.
As you handicap the rest of the bowls going forward, with Memphis/BYU Monday Night, the doubleheaders Tuesday and Wednesday, and then everything after Christmas, be sure you have a good read on the quarterback position.
*Study completion percentages, particularly against bowl caliber opponents
*Study turnover rates, particularly against bowl caliber opponents
*Study third down conversion rates
Note that this past Saturday’s losers had some horrible third down rates. Nevada was just 4 of 15 for 27%. UTEP was 5 of 20 for 25%. Colorado State managed only ONE third down conversion all day for a 10% success rate on 1 of 10 tries.
And, if quarterbacks aren’t going to be as big a factor this year as in the past in terms of moving the ball and putting points on the board…that means you need to focus on the point of attack. Who has the size to bully smaller opponents? Who has running backs that can break off big runs or grind out drives by moving the chains? Four of this Saturday’s five game winners had large advantages on the ground. That’s a second major key that jumps out of the boxscores.
*Louisiana-Lafayette outrushed Nevada 184-89
*Utah State outrushed UTEP 279-149
*Utah outrushed Colorado State 359-12 (!!!)
*Air Force outrushed Western Michigan 284-79
This may be a year when “play creators” on the offensive line matter more than anything else.
A third and final note from the boxscores involves the turnover category. Passing offenses are so safe now…mostly throwing extended handoffs to running backs or other short tosses…that fewer bowl games are being decided by turnover differential. This is good news if you believe that turnovers are mostly luck…but bad news if you were counting on having them in your favor because you were fading certain turnover prone teams. Coaches would rather punt than turn the ball over.
*Nevada punted on 4 of its first 6 drives, only “going for it” after falling way behind
*UTEP punted on 7 of its first 10 drives
*Colorado State punted on 5 of its first 7 drives, then started turning the ball over
*Western Michigan punted on 7 of its first 9 drives
*South Alabama punted on 5 of its first 7 drives, then started turning the ball over
In the first four Saturday games, “winners” lost the ball five times, and “losers” also lost the ball five times! The only turnover blow-up was South Alabama in the nightcap, who lost the category 4-1 while allowing 500 total yards to Bowling Green. Keep this on your radar as well, particularly if you have a natural inclination to bet Overs in bowl games. The sport is evolving away from high scoring shootouts except for the handful of programs who have the talent to make that style work.
I can assure you that KELSO STURGEON will be picking his spots very intelligently day-by-day. My clients and I won’t win ‘em all. But, I’m confident we’ll nail the highest rated releases on our way to another winning season. You can purchase daily BEST BETS or the postseason package right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.
Our next class won’t meet until after Christmas. So, I hope that you and your family have a great holiday. I’ll see you again Friday to talk about weekend football. That might be an NFL report, or another bowl recap…depending on which category deserves the most attention when we get there.
Thanks again for your very hard work. Merry Christmas from the Dean of Sports Handicapping!
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